The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports…
“Eighteen former Mars Hill Church elders have delivered a public confession of sin for their role in purging and shunning two former top officials of the church, declaring: “We were wrong. We harmed you. You have lived with the pain of that form many years.”
The “Letter of Confession” was published on www.repentantpastor.com, and refers to a 2007 purge of elders Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. The purge was a key move as Lead Pastor Mark Driscoll consolidated his hold on the growing mega-church.
The letter offers an unsettling look at inner workings at Mars Hill and how orders came down from on high to shun Petry.
“Paul, on Dec. 5, 2007, those of us who were elders at the time voted to instruct the members of Mars Hill Church to treat you as an unrepentant believer under church discipline after you had resigned your membership from the church.
“The treatment was to have included ‘rejection and disassociation’ in the hope that you would ‘come to the acknowledgment of sin and repent.’
“The disciplinary rejection led to great loss to your family in extreme financial hardship, sudden loss of long-standing friendships, spiritual and emotional trauma to your family, and the public shaming of your character.”
The Seattle-based mega-church has imploded over the past eight months. Driscoll resigned on Oct. 15 after an internal investigation found evidence of “sin” in his treatment of staff and subordinates.
Mars Hill Church announced Friday that it is dissolving, with its remaining 13 “campuses” told to go their own way, join with other churches, or go out of business.
The dissolution has led to a stream of mea culpas from pastors who stood with Driscoll and enabled his dominance of the church.
The letter to Petry and Meyer, said the 18 elders, came about because “we want to publicly confess our sin against you” and “to make our confession public as well with this letter.”
“We now believe our decisions were invalid and wrong,” added the letter. “The entire investigation and trial process was skewed by the implication that your termination was above reproach and for just cause.
“If there had been sin in your life, that might have warranted a warning about possible disqualification from eldership. We should have patiently, directly and carefully addressed it with you before the matter became so extremely escalated.”
The result, confessed the 18, was: “We misled the whole church, harmed your reputation, and damaged the unity of the body of Christ.”
“We hope that you will forgive us: May the peace and grace of our Lord heal our hearts,” it concluded.
Driscoll has adopted, to use a famous political phrase from Watergate, a “modified limited hangout” approach. He has apologized in vague and general terms for those who suffered hurt at the church. He has mixed together self-pity, claims of persecution and limited repentance.
Surfacing recently at the Gateway Church Conference in Texas, Driscoll said his immediate goal is “to sing, to pray, to learn, to grow and to repent.”
He has resources to do all. Driscoll is believed to be getting a years severance pay from Mars Hill. The exact sum has not been disclosed. In a 2013 memo, however, top Driscoll deputy Sutton Turner recommended upping the Lead Pastor’s pay to $650,000.
In all likelihood, the Christian evangelical world has not heard the last from Mark Driscoll.”